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By Jim Yuskavitch
Frank Moore is a fly-fishing legend—at least along Oregon's North Umpqua River, which has been renowned for its summer steelhead since the 1930s, when Western fiction author Zane Grey fished its waters. Moore is a D-Day veteran; he returned after the war to live beside the river with his wife, Jeanne. Together, they became among the North Umpqua's most vocal and effective advocates. In 1966 they founded the Steamboaters, a group of local angler-conservationists who still zealously guard the welfare of the river and its population of wild and wily steelheads.
Now a coalition of fish conservation groups is seeking to extend the Moores' lifelong contribution into the future with a Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary that will protect a vital spawning habitat. Beyond that, the effort may prove to be a viable alternative to more restrictive approaches (like wilderness or wild-and-scenic-river designations) in an inclement political era.
The goal of the sanctuary—an approach largely spearheaded by the Portland-based Wild Salmon Center—is to permanently protect salmon strongholds from future habitat degradation. Most such areas, said Mark Trenholm, the center's senior program manager, are stressed and in need of recovery. "We are trying to save the last best places for salmon," he said. Among other campaigns are a 60,000-acre Elk River Salmon Emphasis Area (SEA) on Oregon's south coast, a 28,000-acre Kilchis SEA on the north coast, and an ambitious proposal for a 700,000-acre Copper River Salmon Reserve in Alaska's famed Copper River Delta.
Unlike traditional land protection strategies like wilderness designations, salmon emphasis areas don't need to meet stringent wildness criteria. They can include fish-conservation-management directives such as habitat restoration without precluding other uses of the land, like logging and motorized vehicle access, theoretically making them less controversial and easier to get through Congress.
The Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary would encompass 104,000 acres in the Steamboat Creek watershed within the Umpqua National Forest, probably the North Umpqua's most important steelhead-spawning tributary. "The basic premise is to give the Forest Service direction that gives wild fish priority," said John Kober, executive director of Portland-based Pacific Rivers, the organization that has been at the forefront of the sanctuary campaign.
Jeanne and Frank Moore talk wild steelhead conservation at their home above the North Umpqua River in the Southern Oregon Cascade Mountains.Jim Yuskavitch
Supporters of the sanctuary stress that it would still allow other natural resource uses. "This is a wild-fish-emphasis area, but it is not a wilderness area," said Oakley Brooks, the Wild Salmon Center's communications director. "There will be logging. Frank is adamant that he does not want to lock the place up, but he wants to protect wild steelhead."
Even so, salmon sanctuary advocates find themselves battling against the current. The proposed Elk River SEA in the Siskiyou National Forest on Oregon's south coast, for example, would have established a 60,000-acre preserve on public land to protect the Elk's runs of Chinook and Coho salmon and steelhead. Old-growth forests would be protected, but otherwise logging would have been allowed. But despite lots of local support, the proposed legislation faltered.
"It never really settled into a slot," said Jerry Becker, a consulting forester and founder of the Friends of the Elk River (now Wild Rivers Land Trust). "It kept getting revised and ultimately never got a bill or a hearing." Becker noted that the Forest Service was also reluctant to sign on to a new management designation. Proposals for salmon emphasis areas on Oregon's north coast were caught up in a lawsuit by a number of county governments, who accuse the state of illegally reducing logging on state forest. The Copper River Salmon Preserve campaign has also faltered.
If eventually designated as wild and scenic, most of the Elk River's headwater tributaries will be protected by buffer zones, but won't include salmon specific conservation measures as intended in the original Elk River salmon emphasis area proposal.Jim Yuskavitch
Wild fall Chinook salmon spawn in a southwestern Oregon coastal stream. Salmon sanctuaries would ensure that wild salmon and steelhead spawning and rearing habitat would be protected from human development and disturbance.Jim Yuskavitch
Salmon-protection efforts have not halted, however. Oregon's Democratic senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, are sponsoring the Oregon Wildlands Act, which would create two new wilderness areas and designate most of the Elk River's major upper tributaries as Wild and Scenic (although it would not give as much protection as the original salmon emphasis area proposal). And coalitions of conservation groups have worked with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to designate 20 coastal watersheds as Wild Fish Emphasis Areas, where no hatchery salmon or steelhead will be stocked for the next 10 years.
But at the moment, the bright spot for salmon-specific protective designation is on the North Umpqua. With the support of senators Wyden and Merkley (and Representative Pete DeFazio), Senate Bill 513 would create the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area. (The word 'sanctuary' was dropped because of Republican concerns that wild-fish advocates were trying to establish a new protective designation—which they are.) "All we need now," said Kober, "is to attach it to a must-pass bill." If the Moore sanctuary succeeds, it could make the upstream journey to the next salmon sanctuary a little less difficult.
Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA magazine.
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A central player in the fight against the novel coronavirus is our immune system. It protects us against the invader and can even be helpful for its therapy. But sometimes it can turn against us.
How does our immune system react to the coronavirus?<p>The coronavirus is — like any other virus — not much more than a shell around genetic material and a few proteins. To replicate, it needs a host in the form of a living cell. Once infected, this cell does what the virus commands it to do: copy information, assemble it, release it.</p><p>But this does not go unnoticed. Within a few minutes, the body's immune defense system intervenes with its innate response: Granulocytes, scavenger cells and killer cells from the blood and lymphatic system stream in to fight the virus. They are supported by numerous plasma proteins that either act as messengers or help to destroy the virus.</p><p>For many viruses and bacteria, this initial activity of the immune system is already sufficient to fight an intruder. It often happens very quickly and efficiently. We often notice only small signs that the system is working: We have a cold, a fever. </p>
Is there an immunity? How long does it last?<p>The good news is that it is very likely there is an immunity. This is suggested by the proximity to other viruses, epidemiological data and animal experiments. Researchers <a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.13.990226v1" target="_blank">infected four rhesus monkeys,</a> a species close to humans, with SARS-CoV-2. The monkeys showed symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, developed neutralizing antibodies and recovered after a few days. When the recovered animals were reinfected with the virus, they no longer developed any symptoms: They were immune. </p><p>The bad news: It is not (yet) known how long the immunity will last. It depends on whether a patient has successfully developed neutralizing antibodies. Achim Hörauf estimates that the immunity should last at least one year. Within this year, every new contact with the virus acts as a kind of booster vaccination, which in turn might prolong the immunity.</p><p>"The virus is so new that nobody has a reasonable immune response," says the immunologist. He believes that lifelong immunity is unlikely. This "privilege" is reserved for viruses that remain in the body for a long time and give our immune system a virtually permanent opportunity to get to know it. Since the coronavirus is an RNA (and not a DNA) virus, it cannot permanently settle in the body, says Hörauf.</p><p>The Heidelberg immunologist <a href="https://www.klinikum.uni-heidelberg.de/immunologie/immunologie" target="_blank">Stefan Meuer</a> predicts that the novel coronavirus will also mutate like all viruses. He assumes that this could be the case in 10 to 15 years: "At some point, the acquired immunity will no longer be of any use to us because then another coronavirus will return, against which the protection that has now been formed will not help us because the virus has changed in such a way that the antibodies are no longer responsible. And then no vaccination will help either."</p>
How can we take advantage of the antibody response of the immune system?<p>Researchers are already collecting plasma from people who have successfully survived an infection with SARS-CoV-2 and are using it to treat a limited number of patients suffering from COVID-19. The underlying principle: <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-drugs-can-antibodies-from-survivors-help/a-52806428" target="_blank">passive immunization.</a> The studies carried out to date have shown positive results, but they have usually been carried out on only a few people.</p><p>At best, passive immunization is used only when the patient's own immune system has already started to work against the virus, says Achim Hörauf: "The longer you can leave the patients alone with the infection before you protect them with passive immunization, the better." Only through active immunization can one be protected in the long term. At the same time, it is difficult to recognize the right point in time.</p><p>PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are currently used to find out whether a person is infected with the coronavirus. With the help of PCR, it is not possible to tell whether or not there is reproducible viral RNA; it is just a proof of whether the virus is still present, dead or alive. A PCR test cannot tell us whether our immune system has already intervened, i.e. whether we have had contact with the virus in the past, have formed antibodies and are now protected. Researchers are therefore working on tests that check our blood for the presence of antibodies. They are already in use in Singapore, for example, and are nearing completion in the USA. With the help of these tests, it would finally be possible to gain an overview <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/corona-confusion-how-to-make-sense-of-the-numbers-and-terminology/a-52825433" target="_blank">of the unclear case numbers.</a> In addition, people who have developed antibodies against the virus could be used at the forefront of health care, for example. An "immunity passport" is even under discussion.</p>
Is it possible to become infected and/or ill several times with the coronavirus?<p>"According to all we know, it is not possible with the same pathogen," says Achim Hörauf. It is possible to become infected with other coronaviruses or viruses from the SARS or MERS group if their spike proteins look different. "As far as the current epidemic is concerned, it can be assumed that people who have been through COVID-19 will not become ill from it for the time being and will not transmit the virus any further," he says.</p>
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